Communication Theory Lasswells maxim:“Who says what to whom in what channel with what effect"
• Traditions of Communication Theory• Multiple theories and perspectives shape the field of communication studies.• Lacking a unifying theory, the field can be divided into seven traditions• Cybernetic or Information Theory (Transmissional)• Semiotics (All these are Constitutive)• The Phenomenological Tradition• Rhetorical• Socio-Psychological• Socio-Cultural• Critical TheoryTwo models: Transmission (informational) model examines the process of sending and receiving messages or transferring information from one mind to another. This model’s limitations are that sending and receiving messages sometimes create gaps in communication because communication signs can be perceived differently by different people. Constitutive model (the process of production and reproduction of shared meaning) These models have several limitations, most of which are due to the fact that there can be can be gaps that occur in an understanding of the communication process either due to socio-cultural diversity and change or due to the limitations of being able to measure authentic communication between people.
The Information or Cybernetic theory of Communication Shannon and Weaver Bell Laboratories 1949 Useful for: Researching how as a designer your work makes effective communication. Main limitation is that it is a linear process and is not concerned with the production of meaning itself, which is a socially mediated process.
Three levels of potential communication problems Level 1 Technical Accuracy Systems of encoding and decoding Compatibility of systems/need for specialist equipment or knowledge Level 2 Semantic Precision of language How much of the message can be lost without meaning being lost? What language to use? Level 3 Effectiveness Does the message affect behaviour the way we want it to? What can be done if the required effect fails to happen?Client Design/er Media outlet Audience See http://mtq.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/7/4/307 for communication theory applied to advertising/marketing
Systems theory The great advantage is that you can switch between mathematical, biological, psychological and sociological frames of reference.
Who are we communicating to? Audiences and Social ClassNational Readership Survey (JICNAR) NS-SEC 2001 Classification Description Classification Description A Upper middle class 1 Managerial & professional B Middle class 2 Intermediate occupations C1 Skilled working class 3 Small employers & own account workers C2 Skilled working class 4 Lower supervisory & technical D Working class Semi-routine & routine 5 Never worked & long-term unemployed E SubsistenceRegistrar Generals Social Classes • The JICNAR National Readership Survey Classification Description classifications (i.e. A, B, C1, C2, D, E) and the Registrar General’s Social Class system (i.e. I, II, I Professionals IIIN, IIIM, IV, V) are compatible but the National Statistics Social and Economic Classifications II Managerial & technical [NS-SEC] ) is not. • This major shift resulted from dissatisfaction with IIIN Skilled non-manual the previous systems, which were felt to be IIIM Skilled manual increasingly unrepresentative of UK society and the new patterns of work and employment within IV Partly skilled it. • The key issues in this debate are that, on the one V Unskilled hand, the JICNAR categories are thought to be more commonly understood than those from the other systems, but on the other hand, the new NS-SEC system was used by the 2001 Census and has been built to reflect the current shape of employment and occupations. Key journals
BARB (Broadcasters Audience Research Board)• Audience categories• The main audience categories are: individuals, adults, men, women, children, and housewives. These are further subdivided by age and social class.• Audience sub-categories/sub-demographic groups• The division of the main audience categories is by age and social class. Social class is determined at the household, rather than the individual, level. The classes are:• AB - higher (A) and middle (B) management, administrative or professional• C1 - supervisory, clerical, and junior management• C2 - skilled manual workers• DE - semi-skilled and unskilled workers and non-wage earners.• AB and C1 audiences are sometimes described as upmarket, C2, D and E are correspondingly described as downmarket.• Age divisions generally used are:• 4-9 years; 10-15; 16-24; 25-34; 35-44; 45-54; 55-64 and 65+ (although 55-64 and 65+ tend to be replaced by 55+).• Broadcasters may be neutral about which sub-category watches their programmes but advertisers are not and tend to prefer younger and more upmarket audiences. Both groups watch less television than the population generally, so getting to them appeals to advertisers. Beyond that, upmarket audiences have more to spend, and the 16-24 age group has no clearly established patterns of consumer spending, another appealing factor for advertisers.Strategies for reaching audiences as target markets. Marketershave outlined four basic strategies to satisfy target markets:undifferentiated marketing or mass marketing, differentiatedmarketing, concentrated marketing, and micromarketing/nichemarketing.
Media Distribution per 1,000250020001500 Newspapers Radios1000 TVs500 0 Pakistan India Japan
As the citizens of less developed countries are increasingly viewed through the prism of consumerism, control of their values and purchasing patterns becomes increasingly important to multinational firms. At its peak in mid-1990s, Baywatch was watched by more than 1 billion people a week in nearly 150 countries. But what was communicated?The Baywatch Theory of Art doesn’t distinguish between a work of art and the kind of object that it represents. For example, itdoesn’t distinguish between a sculpture that represents a woman with big breasts and a woman with big breasts. John Hyman.
Semiotics-Three basic concepts – Semantics addresses what a sign stands for. Dictionaries are semantic reference books; they tell us what a sign means. – Syntactics is the relationships among signs. » Signs rarely stand alone. They are almost always part of a larger sign system referred to as codes. » Codes are organized rules that designate what different signs stand for. – Pragmatics studies the practical use and effects of signs.
The semiotics of Baywatch• Surf and Simulation: Baudrillard and Baywatch Marc Kipness• ‘Baywatch’s hard bodies triumph with ease over the defenceless antibodies of other cultures’• David Hasselhoff : A Semiotic Approach to One of the World’ s Most Recognized Images Diane Stevenson• Hasselhoff ’s physical signifiers—height , age, tight buns, six pack, suntan, wavy hair, chest hair, voice—and his character, Mitch Buchanon, lead to a surprising semiotic thesis• Decoding Baywatch: A Cross‐Cultural, Ethnographic Study Tamar Liebes• Bakhtin Goes to the Beach: Dialogism and Baywatch Michael Dunne• Mirrors of Sand: Baywatch from a Lacanian Perspective Elizabeth Kubek
• Semiotics and the ‘Semiosphere• The whole semiotic space of the culture.• Semiotics examines signs as if they are part of a language.• Structuralists adopted language as their model in exploring a much wider range of social phenomena: i. e. culturally shared codes• Lévi-Strauss for ethnography; myth, kinship rules and totemism;• Lacan for the unconscious; psychology, the subjective aspects of signification, “language is first of all a foreign one”• Barthes for the grammar of narrative;• Julia Kristeva declared that what semiotics has discovered... is that the major constraint affecting any social practice lies in the fact that it signifies; i.e. that it is articulated like a languageThe language ofmedicineTryptanol/TofranilAkamin/AccominLasix/LosecLamictal/LamisilAratac/AropaxAmlodipine/AmiloridePramin/PremarinAdalat/AldometHycor/HyoscineProstin VR/Prostin F2 alphaZocor/ZotonOxynorm/OxycontinSotahexal/MetahexalDiclohexal/Diltahexal
Semiotics• Useful for:• Researching how we make meaning within any given situation and how art/design is ‘read’ within that situation.• Semiotics teaches us that reality can be read as a system of signs and can assist us to become more aware of reality as a construction and of the roles played by ourselves and others in constructing it. It can help us to realize that information or meaning is not contained in art objects, design or audio-visual media. Meaning is not transmitted to us - we actively create it according to a complex interplay of codes or conventions of which we are normally unaware.• Main limitations: The prioritization of structure over usage does not easily recognise the socially mediated and constantly evolving nature of communication.• Prioritises verbal/linguistic structures over embodied knowledge.• Meaning consists of functional relationships within dynamic information systems. Semiotics fails to explain factors that influence the production and interpretation of messages. Sign systems are not autonomous; they exist only in the shared practices of actual communities. Meaning is not fixed by a code; it is a site of social conflict.
Using semiotics to analyse an imageThe first code is linguistic. To encode it we need to be able to readFrench.The next linguistic sign ‘Panzani’ is Italian and encodes not simply thename of the firm but also an additional signified, that of Italianicity. Thelinguistic message is therefore twofold: denotational and connotational.This would not work in Italy.The next code involves the image. This provides a series of discontinuoussigns. First (the order is unimportant as these signs are not linear), thescene represents a return from the market. A signified which itself impliestwo values: that of the freshness of the products and that of theessentially domestic preparation for which they are destined. Its signifieris the half-open bag which lets the provisions spill out over the table,unpacked. You can read this sign in a variety of ways. The bag is a net.Fishing is a basic form of catching food, and if ‘in the net’ the food mustbe very fresh. A second sign is more or less equally evident; its signifier isthe bringing together of the tomato, the pepper and the tricoloured hues(yellow, green, red) of the poster; its signified is Italianicity.The collection of different foods (onions, tomatoes, mushrooms etc)makes it feel is as though Panzani provides everything necessary for acarefully balanced dish and it also seems as though the concentrate in thetin were equivalent to the natural produce surrounding it.The composition of the image, evokes the memory of innumerablepaintings, and produces an aesthetic signified: the still life; theknowledge on which this sign depends is therefore also heavily cultural.The colour is rich and sensual suggesting that this is a ‘quality’ product.The shape and orientation of the image is ‘portrait’, suggesting this isperson to person communication, therefore you should be interested.
• How to set about analysing a text• A text (such as a printed advertisement, an item of furniture, a set of clothes, an interior, a painting, a beer can, an animated cartoon or a web site) is in itself a complex sign containing other signs.First task: Identify the signs within the text and the codes within which these signs have meaning (e.g. textual codes such as camerawork; codes relating to sub-group preoccupations or social codes such as body language).Second task: Within these codes you need to identify paradigm sets (such as in the case of camerawork shallow depth of field and other related DofF effects, cropped image and other framing devices, panning, long shot, mid shot, close up, in the case of a sub-group preoccupation it may be dress code or a particular language used).Third task: To identify the structural relationships between the various signifiers (syntagms) Syntagmatic relations are possibilities of combination. You could point to how a written text is used to ‘anchor’ a photograph’s meaning or the way polari (gay slang) was interwoven into British comedy routines during the 1960s.Forth task: To discuss the ideological functions of the signs in the text and of the text as a whole. For example a text may presume a certain set of class relationships and individual signs may either reinforce these or operate as potential levers for change . (As in the case of the use of polari)Fifth task: Determine what sort of world view the text constructs and how it does so?Finally: What assumptions does the text make about its readers? By working your way through to the readers (social class etc.) you can then embed the analysis into the Shannon and Weaver Communication model. This is a useful ploy if you are to demonstrate application of differing research methodologies.
CodeNo language, Danger Plane Airport Danger due toeven if it’s a proximity of a placevisual one, is where aircraft flyself frequently at lowexplanatory. + = altitude over theLanguages road.have to belearnt Stipulated Car Stipulated for cars Drivers of cars are obliged to use the + = road at the entrance of which this sign is placed. Danger Car Car forbidden Drivers of cars are forbidden from driving in this area Note that the blue sign could contain the plane and would be a syntactically valid signal, although it would be useless. The same happens with written language, where you can write a valid sentence but it can be completely meaningless.
• The Phenomenological Tradition• …is the process of knowing through direct experience. It is the way in which humans come to understand the world.• Phenomenon refers to the appearance of an object, event or condition in one’s perception.• Makes actual lived experience the basic data of reality.• A failure in communication can be seen as an absence of, or failure to sustain, authentic human relationships• Merleau-Ponty “The theory of the body schema is, implicitly, a theory of perception“ in which "our own body is in the world as the heart is in the organism: it keeps the visible spectacle constantly alive, it breathes life into it and sustains it inwardly, and with it forms a system”• The weakness of Merleau-Ponty’s position is grounded in his attachment to semiotics.
The Corporeal TurnThe Incredulity of St Thomas by CaravaggioThe basic physical nature of communication rests in the fact we inhabit a body and that our senses are dominated by touchSheets-Johnson, M (2009) The Corporeal Turn: An Interdisciplinary Reader London: Imprint
The Embodied MindCommunication seen as an extension of thenervous system. It starts with an awarenessof the body. Language is seen as part ofthat system existing as as neuronalpathways that are linked within the brain.The key is a physiological classification ofcoding and encoding.
• The process of interpretation is central• Unlike the semiotic tradition, where interpretation is separate from reality, in the phenomenological tradition we are interested in what is real for the person.• Interpretation emerges from a hermeneutic circle in which interpreters constantly go back and forth between experience and assigning meaning.
• Three schools of the phenomenological tradition• Classical phenomenology. Key thinker Edward Husserl, who states that it is highly objective and claims the world can be experienced, through bracketing, the putting aside of bias without the knower bringing his or her own categories to bear. This is often criticised as being an impossible task.• The phenomenology of perception. Key thinker Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Most contemporary phenomenology rejects the objectivist view and posits that we can only know things through our personal, subjective relationship to things.• Hermeneutic phenomenology, the interpretation of being, extends the subjective tradition even further by incorporating the communication system itself as a further interpretive mechanism.• Hermeneutics, can be thought of as a type of reading between the lines: Interpretations of interpretations, reflecting the fact that communication is a matter of dialogue and is multi-channel.
We could define judgement as placing a "value" on what you perceive, believing it to be "good" or "bad" instead of just accepting that it "is."HermeneuticsOriginally referred to Judgement is much morethe study of the about the ability to discerninterpretation of what is best honourablereligious texts. and just . Right thinking is more difficult to find then a needle in a mountain of straw for those who miss the simple light of life.A hermeneutic circle This definition is too ideological, in everyday life judgement is much more concerned with the capacity to assess situations or circumstances shrewdly and to draw sound conclusions. How can God judge if he knows everything?
RhetoricSocrates: The fact is…that the aspiring speaker needs no knowledge of the truthabout what is right or good... In courts of justice no attention is paid whatever tothe truth; all that matters is plausibility... Plato, Phaedrus 272Aristotle first addressed the problem of communication and attempted to work outa theory of it in The Rhetoric. He was primarily focused on the art of persuasion.In photographic and filmic media a close-up is a simple synecdoche - a partrepresenting the whole. It is a type of ‘rhetoric trope’ such as………… Synecdoche Hyperbole Irony
• Rhetoric• Useful for thinking through how you are going to achieve certain effects on the ‘reader’ or audience. In particular if a ‘theatrical’ or ‘performative’ approach to communication is required. The key concept is the use of metaphor. Often used for propaganda.• Main limitations• The art of rhetoric can be learned only by practice. Intervention in complex systems involves technical problems rhetoric fails to grasp. Rhetoric lacks good empirical evidence that its persuasive techniques actually work as intended. Rhetorical theory is culture bound & overemphasizes individual agency vs. social structure. Above all, because its difficult to prove how it effects change, (although many would argue that it is the most effective type communication ) it can be difficult to prove its research value. Therefore best used when triangulated with other theories.
Rhetoric can be used to change the way we ‘read’ things. It persuades us to see or read things differently. Because most of the information we receive is ambiguous we can easily be persuaded to read it as others do. Rhetoric relies on communication as a social activity and is a device that is designed to help individuals exert the power of their ideas and views over others.Pictures without context are meaningless; they need to be anchored.“All images are polysemous; they imply… a floating chain of signifieds, the reader able to choose some and ignore others.Polysemy poses a question of meaning and this question always comes through as a dysfunction....Hence in every society varioustechniques are developed intended to fix the floating chain of signifieds in such a way as to counter the terror of uncertain signs”Barthes
Employing rhetoric“BURYING THELUSITANIA’S DEAD ANDSUCCORING HERSURVIVORS”Newspaper headline at thetimeThe use of ‘pathos’ ameans of persuasion in Lusitaniaclassical rhetoric thatappeals to the audiencesemotions. On the evening of May 7th, 1915, the RMS Lusitania was off the coast of Ireland en route to Liverpool from “ENLIST” was a WWI New York when it was torpedoed by Recruitment poster designed by Fred Spears. Spears’ a German U-Boat and sank. About design was inspired by a 1,200 of the nearly 2,000 passengers news report from that described, among the and crew aboard drowned, including recovered bodies from the more than 100 Americans. The loss Lusitania, “a mother with a three-month-old child of life provoked America out of a clasped tightly in her arms. hereunto neutrality on the ongoing Her face wears a half smile. Her baby’s head rests war in Europe. With cries of against her breast. No one “Remember the Lusitania” the U.S. has tried to separate them.” entered into WWI within two years.
Metaphor; from the Greek: metaphora, meaning "transfer" is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects or activitiesOriginally used as a rhetoricaltrope, metaphor enables us tograsp new concepts andremember things by creatingassociations."[W]e have noticed a decrease in theamount of anchoring copy used invisual metaphor ads . . .. We theorizethat, over time, advertisers haveperceived that consumers are growingmore competent in understanding andinterpreting visual metaphor in ads."(Phillips, B. J. (2003) Understanding VisualMetaphor in Advertising, in Persuasive Imagery,ed. by L. M. Scott and R. Batra. London: Erlbaum)Images in Advertising: The Need for a Theory ofVisual Rhetoric Linda M. ScottOn JSTOR
The Sociopsychological tradition• The study of the individual as a social being• Three key areas• Behavioural• Cognitive• Biological
The socio-psychological tradition of communication is useful when used to study the development of a relationshipVC Visual Communication NVAE Non Verbal Affiliative Expressiveness
ISB Information seeking behaviour Intimacy of communication content
• Social and Cognitive Psychology• Paivios notion of dual coding states the visual and verbal information are encoded and decoded by separate specialized perceptual and cognitive systems. One system is visual/pictorial and manipulates the elements of imagery simultaneously; the other is linguistic and propositional and operates in sequence.• The two systems are assumed to be structurally and functionally distinct. Although independent, the two subsystems are also interdependent so that a visual concept can be converted into a verbal one and vice versa. A more recent approach to explaining the interaction between the two systems is the metaphor of interactive parallel processing. Limitations of verbal language mediated by visual languages
Socio-psychological communicationExpression, interaction and influence Psychological communication Communication as the act of sending a message to a receiver, and (Informing) assessing the feelings and thoughts of the receiver upon interpreting the message and how these will effect an understanding of the message. Useful for: Deep analysis of the moment of communication. Other things happening Feelings can be ones of fear and apprehension
• Gestalt psychology (a type of cognitive theory) refers to a structure, configuration, or layout that is unified and has specific properties that are greater than the simple sum of its individual parts. For example, a person reading text perceives each word first as a complete word and its meaning rather than seeing individual letterforms. Each letterform is clearly an individual unit, but the greater meaning depends on the arrangement of the letterforms into a specific configuration (a word). Another analogy is the individual frames in a movie. Each frame in a movie may be considered separately, and judged on its compositional strength, but it is the rapid projection of multiple frames across time that forms the perception of movement and narrative continuation.• Gestalt theory provides rational explanations for why shifts in spacing, timing, and configuration can have a profound effect on the meaning of presented information. Simple changes in spacing can dramatically change meaning. “Gestalt perceptual factors build a visual frame of reference which can provide the designer with a reliable psychological basis for the spatial organization of graphic information.” Greg Berryman
The sociocultural tradition• If defining yourself in terms of your identity with terms such as father, Catholic, student, lesbian, Asian, Yorkshire etc. you are defining yourself in terms of your identity as part of a group and this group frames your cultural identity.• The sociocultural tradition looks at how these cultural understandings, roles and rules are worked out interactively in communication.• Context is seen as being crucial to forms and meanings of communication.
• Socio-cultural communication theory within education• The social cognition learning model asserts that culture is the prime determinant of individual development. Humans are the only species to have created culture, and every human child develops in the context of a culture. Therefore, a child’s learning development is affected in ways large and small by the culture–including the culture of family environment–in which he or she is enmeshed. (Vygotsky)• Vygotskys theory was an attempt to explain consciousness as the end product of socialization. For example, in the learning of language, our first utterances with peers or adults are for the purpose of communication but once mastered they become internalized and allow "inner speech".• A difference exists between what child can do on her own and what the child can do with help. Vygotskians call this difference the zone of proximal development.• A useful approach to thinking through the educational development of children and therefore important in educational design.
Using socio-cultural communication theory to understand both how to educate and how beliefs may have been built upWertsch, J.V. (1985). Cultural, Communication, and Cognition: Vygotskian Perspectives Cambridge University Press
Critical Communication Theory• The basis of critical communication theory rests on two aspects of Hegel’s thinking.• In the ‘Phenomenology of the Mind’ the critique was an examination of various forms and sources of deceptions and illusions that the mind is subject to on its journey to absolute knowledge. This attitude led Marx to clarify how society is subject to the deceptions of capitalism how labour transactions are hidden within the fetish of exchange value.• Hegel believed that human history has a purpose. He assumes that we are driven by a common interest in freedom and therefore we seek to break free of all systems of overt and hidden constraints. Marx developed his own views of historical materialism in response to Hegel and developed Communism as a vehicle for historical change.
• Critical Communication Theory• A synthesis of philosophy and social science .• Critical theory approaches to communication examine social conditions in order to uncover hidden structures.• Useful to use when examining the ways the media produce encoded messages, the ways audiences decode those messages, and the power base apparent in these processes.• Key thinkers and schools of thought: Frankfurt School, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, disability studies and feminist theory• However: Critical theory easily confuses facts and values, as well as imposing a dogmatic ideology. Critical theory questions the rational validity of all authority, tradition, and conventional belief, therefore as a theory it can be difficult to use if the main purpose of research is to examine simply the fact that communication is taking place and how well it is working.
“Who says what to whom in what channel with what effect"
• The cybernetic tradition in communication is mainly specific to our modern technological society. It presents communication as “information processing”. However, ideas of consciousness and emotions are not recognised, which can mean that the languages of distortion, noise and overload are not compatible with the human realities of social discourse.• The rhetorical tradition, the practical art of discourse, appeals to popular ideas and beliefs about communication; however it requires us to believe in collective deliberation and judgment and the power of individuals to shape these.• The semiotic tradition explains the use of languages and other sign systems and tends to see all other sign systems as ‘texts’. The problems of this tradition are the gaps and misunderstanding that take place when presupposing that all communication can be boiled down to textual issues.• The phenomenological tradition focuses on the experience of otherness or dialogue within the parameters of perception: it seeks to explain what is ‘real’ for the individual as communication takes place. The Embodied Mind is seen as a key factor in the development of authentic human relationships. However, it is hard and practically impossible to measure authentic communication between people.• In the socio-psychological tradition communication is presented as a “process of expression, interaction and influence,” where behavioural and emotional factors play an essential role. This is the process where people interact and influence each other. Nevertheless, this tradition challenges the personal autonomy of humans and relies on a belief in our ability to understand or have a dialogue with what might be going on in the unconscious mind.• Socio-cultural communication theory looks at communication as a symbolic process that produces and reproduces shared socio-cultural patterns, which means that our everyday communication is based on some common pre-existing cultural and social structures. The problem of this theory, as in semiotic tradition, is that there can be gaps during the communication process based on socio-cultural diversity and socio- cultural change, as well as the fact that it does not fully recognise individual agency.• The critical theory tradition describes communication as discursive reflection. Critical theory, however, questions the rational validity of all authority, tradition, and conventional belief and can itself be questioned if communication needs to stand outside of this debate.
Bibliography• Baldwin & Roberts (2006) Visual Communication From Theory to Practice London: Ava Books• Craig, Robert T (1999) Communication Theory as a Field” Communication Theory 9.2. 119-161• Curry Jansen, S (2002) Critical Communication Theory: Power, Media, Gender and Technology London: Rowman and Littlefield• Griffin, E (1997) A first look at communication theory. 3rd edition, New York: McGraw- Hill• Littlejohn, S. W.,(2002) Theories of human communication. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth• Miller, K. (2005) Communication Theories: Perspectives, processes, and contexts. 2nd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill• Werner, E., (1989) Cooperating Agents: A Unified Theory of Communication and Social Structure", Distributed Artificial Intelligence, Vol. 2, L. Gasser and M. Huhns, eds., Morgan Kaufmann and Pitman Press• Werner, E. (1988) Toward a Theory of Communication and Cooperation for Multiagent Planning Theoretical Aspects of Reasoning About Knowledge: Proceedings of the Second Conference, Morgan Kaufman Publishers, pp. 129-143• Witzany, G, (2007)The Logos of the Bios 2. Bio-Communication", Helsinki, Umweb,• For Gestalt design see: http://www.scientificjournals.org/journals2008/articles/1288.pdf• Semiotics for Beginners http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem06.html